designated in October to form a new government. But he has made little progress, despite 17 meetings to discuss political horse trading with President Michel Aoun. LastThursday, they agreed to meet again on Monday.

Jihad Sabat, 48, has watched the decline from the window of the Beirut butcher shop he has run since 1997. Over the last year, he said, the price of meat has kept rising while the number of customers has dwindled.

A pound of beef now costs more than three times what it would have before the crisis, he said — more than three times what it cost before the crisis. He has also seen a rise in people wanting to buy on credit and interested in taking bones to boil for soup.

“Meat has become a luxury,” he said.

He accused the country’s politicians of stealing the state’s money through corrupt schemes and criticized them for failing to stabilize the economy.

A friend hanging out in the shop interjected, “The problem is the people.” Mr. Sabat nodded.

“That’s an essential point,” he said. “If there were elections tomorrow, the same people would be back.”

In the grocery store, Mr. Hassan, the manager, said his branch sold less meat every month and more lentils, even though they, too, are imported and cost five times more than before the crisis.

Fights have broken out in the aisles over staples like rice, sugar and cooking oil subsidized by the government, he said. And it is common for customers to get sticker shock in the checkout lane when they realize they can afford only a few essentials.

“I don’t know how people keep going,” he said. “But it will eventually cause an explosion.”

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